So, what are the best Harry Potter movies? And is your favorite at the top?
It has been two decades since Harry Potter burst onto our screens, bringing to life the magical world of J.K Rowling. But, 20 years on since the first installment of the franchise was released, which are the best Harry Potter movies?
While every Harry Potter fan is going to have their own favorite film (and their own order of the films they like best and why) here is our rundown of all eight films in order from the weakest to the very best. Ranking the films and choosing the worst out of them all is no easy task, especially as we could happily sit down and watch any of them from start to finish any day of the week. But, nonetheless, here goes nothing...
** WARNING - spoilers ahead! If for some reason you haven't seen all eight of the Harry Potter movies (we promise not to judge), or it has been so long since you read the books that you have forgotten how the franchise ends — you might want to think twice before reading on! **
8. 'Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix' (2007)
While choosing the weakest Harry Potter film wasn't easy, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix stands out from the crowd, and not just because of the fact this is the film where Sirius Black dies (sob). This film might be packed to the rafters with action, but it can often get viewers in a muggle... sorry, muddle, with all the different storyline strands going on.
But, while this might not be the most compelling of the films, there are plenty of redeeming factors, not only is this the film where Bellatrix Lestrange makes her grand entrance (only to kill off our beloved Sirius), but Harry also creates Dumbledore's Army, teaching his friends how to fight against the Dark Arts, while the amazing Voldermort and Dumbledore duel at the Ministry of Magic leaves us wanting more. And, of course, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix also sees the introduction of Dolores Umbridge, played to perfection by Imelda Staunton.
7. 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' — Part 1 (2010)
By the time the films get to the Deathly Hallows double bill, things are really picking up, action-wise. However, the first installment of J.K Rowling's final book seems to simply be setting the scene for the final showdown, and let's face it, there is a lot of setting up to be done.
The first half of the movie is fairly pacey and it is nice to see Ron, Hermionie, and Harry in the muggle world for a change, but soon they are flitting from one location to another trying to track down the Horcruxes, and we're still not ready to talk about THAT beach scene with Dobby.
While it's hard to judge a film as a standalone movie when it is only one half of a book is hard, it had to be said that Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint are outstanding in this film, standing out from the crowd as they make a move away from the rest of the cast and carry the film along.
6. 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone' ('Philosopher's Stone' in UK) (2001)
The first Harry Potter film brought J.K Rowling's magical world of witchcraft and wizardry to life, meaning it will always have a special place in the hearts of fans around the world. Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint bust onto our screens, perfectly cast as Harry, Hermione, and Ron, marking the start of one of the most successful movie franchises in cinema history.
However, while the nostalgia of the first film — not to mention THAT iconic chess set scene — will always be special, it is only when you compare this first installment to the later films that you realize the best is yet to come.
5. 'Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets' (2002)
While it might not have ranked that high on our list, mainly because it is just a bit too long, there is plenty going for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets — especially the genius casting of Kenneth Branagh as the brilliantly vain Gilderoy Lockhart.
We discover in the second Harry Potter installment that Harry can speak parseltongue, and of course, it is the film where we are introduced to Dobby, everyone's favourite house elf. In this film we also learn more about Moaning Myrtle, Tom Riddle, and of course the Weasley's flying car... it just had a few too many spiders in it for our liking. Shudder.
4. 'Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince' (2009)
The sixth movie in the series sees a brilliant balance of light-hearted comedy as Ron and Harry start to discover the opposite sex with hilarious consequences, and drama as we discover more about Snape's backstory. Tom Felton is outstanding as Malfoy as his role within the Death Eaters steps up a gear, while actor Jim Broadbent delivers a goofy Professor Slughorn to perfection.
This is also the film where Harry shares his first kiss with Ginny, and Dumbledore meets an untimely end after Snape's shocking "betrayal". The only thing missing is Voldermort's back story, which stands out as some of the more important parts of J.K Rowling's sixth book which has been oddly left out of the film.
3. 'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire' (2005)
The fourth installment of the Harry Potter franchise ramps everything up a gear once again, this time bringing us the Triwizard Tournament, the Yule Ball, and of course, Robert Pattinson as (the ill-fated) Cedric Diggory. This movie sees Harry in yet another impossible predicament when he is faced with a life-threatening hurdle that he has no choice but to embrace as he is selected to battle it out for the Triwizard Cup, but this time the scenes come with brilliant cinematography and the whole film feels like a more grown-up big brother to its predecessors.
2. 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' — Part 2 (2011)
It's the climax of all the films, bringing together the story in one final battle for Hogwarts, and while we didn't want the series to end, this has got to be the most fitting finish we could have hoped for. All the loose ends of the story are neatly tied up with a bow, and the moment fans have been waiting for finally arrives when Harry finishes off Voldermort in epic style.
Fans are also treated to a glimpse into the future as we see Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermionie back on Platform 9 and three quarters waving off their own children as they board the Hogwarts Express... we challenge any die-hard Potter fan to watch the end of this film without a tear in their eye.
1. 'Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban' (2004)
And the winner is... Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. In our opinion by far the best film of the series. Not only does the third installment of the franchise bring us Sirius Black, but Harry also blows up Aunt Marge, and then there is, of course, the amazing Knight Bus scene which we could just watch over and over, even if Dre Head can't count backward properly.
Gary Oldman and David Thewlis are bewitching as Lupin and Sirius, and Harry finally gets to meet someone as close to family as he is ever going to get. From start to finish the plot is strong and logical, leading to the film becoming a firm fan favorite over the years.
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Claire is Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch and has been a journalist for over 15 years, writing about everything from soaps and TV to beauty, entertainment, and even the Royal Family. After starting her career at a soap magazine, she ended up staying for 13 years, and over that time she’s pulled pints in the Rovers Return, sung karaoke in the Emmerdale village hall, taken a stroll around Albert Square, and visited Summer Bay Surf Club in sunny Australia.
After learning some tricks of the trade at websites Digital Spy, Entertainment Daily, and Woman & Home, Claire landed a role at What’s On TV and whattowatch.com writing about all things TV and film, with a particular love for Aussie soaps, Strictly Come Dancing and Bake Off.
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As well as all things soap-related, Claire also loves running, spa breaks, days out with her kids, and getting lost in a good book.
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